Thursday - March 16, 2017 1:55 am

Wisconsin farmers eyeing how Trump admin. negotiates NAFTA

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Trade deal with Mexico and Canada is worth hundreds of millions for Wis. farmers.

While the U.S. and Mexico are said to be in the early stages of renegotiating a key trade deal, farmers in Wisconsin are watching with some concern.

Darrin Von Ruden is president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and a Westby, Wis., dairy farmer.

He says there's little his organization cares more about at this point than what happens with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Probably our biggest concern, as an agricultural organization, is  how the president's going to renegotiate NAFTA," Von Ruden said. "We like to say we need to have fair trade, so we don't want to hurt the farmers in Mexico and hopefully it's vice-versa that way - that they're not out to destroy the livelihood of farmers here in the U.S."

President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate NAFTA as a campaign promise. Von Ruden says much is at stake for farmers, and it's time to fix some of the imbalances in the original agreement.

"Hopefully with the new administration," Von Ruden said, "some of the thought processes that they're going through, will make sure that there's a fair trade, rather than the free-trade model that seems to pit one group against the other."

Wisconsin companies export over $10 billion worth of goods annually to Mexico and Canada, the nation's partners in NAFTA. Those are the largest markets for Wisconsin firms. The state shipped $360 million just in farm products just to Mexico in 2015.

NAFTA involves the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Any talks would involve all three. Those negotiations have yet to start, but preliminary talks between the nations on the trade deal has begun. Renegotiation of the 20 year-old trade deal could take years.   

 

Last modified on Thursday - March 16, 2017 4:07 am
Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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